Don’t Be Left Out in the Cold: Inclement Weather Policies

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January 3, 2016
Indiana weather can only be described as one of Mother Nature’s jokes. One minute it’s 55 degrees, and the next, temperatures are flirting with zero. From frosty freezes to humid heat waves, the Midwest climate is anything but predictable. To ensure your company is prepared in any season, it’s important to have policies in place for bad weather.

Talk About It

Not only is it important to have weather policies, but it’s important to verbalize them. When the possibility of dangerous road conditions or even issues like power outages arise, make sure your employees understand what’s expected of them.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, expectations often vary depending on the employee’s work status. Nonexempt employees are usually paid only for the time they work, however, exempt employees are usually paid based on their normal salary.

While employees should know if they are classified as exempt or nonexempt, they may not understand every rule and regulation. To ensure there is no uncertainty, talk about your company’s policy and reiterate how it affects employees.

Here are some things to consider covering:

1. Office closure notifications. Will your company send out an email? Will someone call? Should employees check the local media for an alert? Make sure there is a collective understanding so no one is confused.

2. Reiterate how closures and delays affect different types of employees (for example, exempt and nonexempt). This is something many people don’t think about on weekly basis. A friendly prompt is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

3. Not all companies have the same rules when it comes to working at home. Make sure your employees understand how remote work is handled; when it’s acceptable, how they log time (if that’s something required of them), or how often they can choose this option.

4. No one wants to dip into their PTO for time they haven’t chosen to take off. However, if your office requires the use of PTO to cover any missed days due to weather, make sure employees understand that. SHRM explains that if your office remains open, but some employees still can’t make it in, many companies allow them to use their PTO to cover that day. However forcing employees to use PTO, for example, by closing the office due to weather, may create tension. Whichever route your company takes, regardless of how unfavorable it may be, leave no room for confusion.

Write It Down

Just talking about your company’s policies isn’t good enough. Putting the policy in writing and making it accessible is your best bet.

1. Email all employees a breakdown of inclement weather policies.

2. Create a flyer or informational sheet and hang it in the break room or wherever it’s most visible.

3. If your company has a handbook, dedicate a section to weather policies.

The most important thing to remember is to be open and honest with your team. Brutal weather can be difficult enough, but policies surrounding it don’t have to be.